What are the best items to use to stop a nosebleed?
September 9, 2020 6:10 PM   Subscribe

I know someone who gets chronic nosebleeds. She usually just stuffs tissue up her nose to stop them. But today I discovered a number of products that are supposed to be more effective. They are listed on Page 6 of this PDF. Do you have experience with these, or anything else more effective than tissues, to stop nosebleeds as they are happening? What do you recommend? This is for an adult in the USA, in case that matters.
posted by NotLost to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Thankfully my chronic nosebleeds have lessened measurably over the years. The approach I took was to blow my nose to make sure all the snot and gunt was gone, then insert a piece of tissue that was folded over to form a plug and then to sit still and apply pressure. After awhile, if I felt that things were probably stopped I would continue normal movements/activities. After a bit longer if I was pretty sure nothing was flowing, I would remove the tissue. If it was obvious that it was not stopping, I'd remove the plug and repeat all the steps.
posted by mmascolino at 6:28 PM on September 9, 2020

This sounds totally wacky but I balance a penny on the bridge of my nose. Likely a strange placebo but it always helps.
posted by nathaole at 6:31 PM on September 9, 2020

Best answer: Dunno if this is an option, but I tried all kinds of things, including some stuff in the PDF, and the only thing that worked was going to an ENT doc and getting the veins cauterized. Took ten minutes and it was sore for a week or two but was totally worth it.
posted by schroedinger at 6:38 PM on September 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I also had cauterization done, and went on to a fairly lengthy career in which olfactory accuracy was valuable. Same deal; hurt for a few weeks, then everything felt normal, minus nosebleeds.
posted by furnace.heart at 6:48 PM on September 9, 2020

Best answer: The pressure method on page 4 worked for me when I had frequent pregnancy-related nosebleeds.
posted by muddgirl at 6:56 PM on September 9, 2020

Best answer: The only thing that has helped mine is gauze. We cut strips of gauze, usually an inch by six, and I just roll one up and stuff it up my nostril. It's way way more effective than tissue and has made a huge difference.
posted by Marinara at 7:02 PM on September 9, 2020

Best answer: I just took my kid to the ENT for nose cauterization, and the doctor recommended the pressure method on page 4 of that PDF as way more effective than tissues. He said part of the reason it works is that it allows the veins to clot without clotting TO tissue or gauze that's going to get ripped away - using the body's own mucus actually helps reduce the bleeding faster. I haven't had a chance to try it yet, since we had the cauterization done at the same appointment, but I'm definitely going to do so. Bonus - literally nothing to buy!
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 7:15 PM on September 9, 2020

Best answer: I've avoided cauterisation because of some horror stories about loss of smell. Now I'm interested in looking up how likely that actually is...

The best device to stop a nosebleed was given to me once at a swimming pool. Many years later, I figured out it was a small tampon!

They make nasal tampons for nasal packing purposes. I use them rarely because the same technique as mmascolino is my go-to solution.
posted by Acari at 7:21 PM on September 9, 2020

Best answer: My ex who got frequent nosebleeds would drink a big glass of ice water right away, on the theory that the coldness constricted the blood vessels in the nose and made the bleeding less severe.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:26 PM on September 9, 2020

Best answer: One thing was recommended to me recently. Out of desperation, I tried it, and it worked great. I pinched the soft stuff near the tip of the nose and leaned forward a bit. As soon as the flow seemed to let up, I put a chunk of Vaseline up both nostrils. It seemed weird but worked great, no more pinching and no blood coming out. The Vaseline never had to be retrieved, it just disappeared. This also may have helped moisturize my nostrils. Good luck, hope your friend find what works for her.
posted by happy_cat at 7:28 PM on September 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Slightly wet cottonballs up the nostril for around 10 minutes, and then remove, check for continued bleeding, and repeat. When the bleeding has stopped, remove cotton and blow the nose, which usually ejects some bloody snot, and that's over. Once in a while this kicks in a new bleed, call it 5% of the time.

If it's still going, apply cold on the back of the neck-- cold spoon, cold wet cloth, whatever's at hand. Probably a placebo, but placebos work even when you know they're placebos.

My bloody noses are almost exclusively due to my nose drying out-- dry weather, too much probing with a kleenex, whatever. My seasonal bloody nose, which kicks in as soon as I start my morning shower during the dryest part of winter, is mostly gone now because I have a humidifier attached to my face all night these days.

tl;dr: prevent them with humidity in the nose, halt them with slightly wet cottonballs followed by blowing out the bloody snot, and if needed, break out the big guns: coldness on the back of the neck.
posted by Sunburnt at 7:29 PM on September 9, 2020

Best answer: Similar to Sunburnt, my chronic nosebleeds stopped almost completely when I started using a humidifier every single night and pretty much put the setting on "rainforest." The only two nosebleeds I had last winter were the two nights I skipped the humidifier.
posted by TwoStride at 7:52 PM on September 9, 2020

Best answer: I have epic nosebleeds, a lifetime of them, some bad enough to scare ENT docs in their office waiting rooms.

What has worked best for me is cauterization, which I have done every few years. The blood vessels in my nose are particularly close to the surface (the doc I see now for ENT stuff has been consistently impressed with the location and size of my nose vessels) so they come back. I generally wait until I'm having several bleeds a day before having it done again because it's a bit of hassle - a headache for a day or two, but every time I kick myself and ask why did I wait so long/ because the relief is so noticeable.

Things that helped a bit for prevention, but not as much as cautery -

humidifier set to 11
neti pot (but not every day in winter because saline is also drying)
remain hydrated
absolutely no nose picking
the tiniest nose blowing air expelling possible
sneezing only out my mouth and never through my nose. the sneeze bleeds terrify strangers

The trick for helping the bleeding stop a bit more quickly -
Gently, gently, blow the nose. Just like, if a nose blow were a faint whisper. Not a stage whisper, but like genuinely as quietly as you can. Next, pinching the very bottom outer bits of nostril, pinching them together fairly gently and not checking for what feels like an eternity. I would try to make a note of the time, but usually by this point I'm covered in blood and touching my phone isn't a fun idea. I might activate the screen with my elbow if the phone is nearby. Pressure on, over, or pinching higher up the bridge of the nose has been strongly advised against by a few ENTs that I have seen.

For particularly gnarly nosebleeds that need to stop now, I have had several ENTs advise nasal decongestant spray, so I make sure to carry that when I fly because I have been prevented from boarding an aircraft due to nosebleed. (In Denver, nearly the worst place in the US to be stuck overnight with nosebleeds...) Talk to your ENT about this because the suggested amount/frequency for my needs was definitely...off label.

I also always, always, carry fabric bandanas with me that I use as hankies. Red and black are great. Purple will do in a pinch. But I also use light blue and pink ones because whatever. I also keep plastic bags in my purse, because wet blood is not decorative.
posted by bilabial at 8:19 PM on September 9, 2020

Best answer: Another vote for cauterization. My ENT's threshold was a chronic problem, such as every day for a week (which is what I had). He did it with a silver nitrate solution. Hurt a lot going in, then was an annoying, but not exactly painful, metal booger for a couple days before that dislodged. I've had it done twice. It hasn't hurt my sense of smell.

The pressure method works better for me otherwise. If the pressure method isn't working and I start to consider packing methods then I think it might be time to see my ENT for another cauterization.
posted by fedward at 9:00 AM on September 10, 2020

Best answer: A cool wet cloth on the forehead. You can just rub it back and forth gently. I believe there is a blood vessel that goes across the forehead to supply the nasal area. I used to get a nosebleed when I washed my face so I started using only cool water on the forehead. I put vaseline into my nostrils at night when they are dry. This has helped cut down on the frequency of nosebleeds.
posted by goodsearch at 10:02 AM on September 10, 2020

Best answer: I recently had a balloon sinuplasty and turbinate reduction surgery. My nose bled like a dollar store abattoir slop-bucket.

Tissues, gauze, head position... nothing seemed to help.

I can speak from firsthand experience that tampons are a super-effective epistaxis remedy. If you're too proud to cram one up each nostril, then your nosebleed must not be all that bad after all.
posted by sourcequench at 6:08 PM on September 10, 2020

Response by poster: Thank you. These are all helpful! She has had cauterizations but doesn't want to do that anymore.
posted by NotLost at 5:23 PM on September 17, 2020

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